Russian-Ukraine war: Russian aggression could spill into Poland
Poland is holding its breath as Russia’s war in Ukraine rages nearby.
As the number of refugees entering the country increases and a military base near its border with Ukraine is attacked, it feels vulnerable on two fronts.
In response to one of Europe’s biggest refugee crises since World War Two, over 1.7 million Ukrainians have fled to Poland, according to the UN.
Some move on, but most stay due to cultural, linguistic, or family ties. Since two weeks ago, the Polish capital Warsaw’s population has grown by 15%.
There are also alarm bells ringing in terms of security. Just 16 km (10 miles) from the Polish border, Russia bombed a Ukrainian military base in Yavoriv over the weekend.
For years, Poland warned the West that Russia was redressing the balance of power in Europe in its favor. At the time, Polish leaders were dismissed as alarmists. It’s no longer the case.
Mateusz Morawiecki, the Polish prime minister, said Ukrainian soldiers needed and deserved Western support. He insisted they were fighting not just for their own freedom, but also for the freedom of their Eastern European neighbors.
In addition, he said that Vladimir Putin’s onslaught against Ukraine was part of a calculated geopolitical strategy.
Poland has become a linchpin of Nato’s eastern flank after once being viewed as a post-communist Russophobe. This is the strongest link in the chain connecting the West with Ukraine.
The majority of weapons convoys sent by the West to help the Ukrainian military travel through Poland. These convoys were declared “legitimate military targets” inside Ukraine on Saturday by Moscow.
How likely is it that the Kremlin will attack Poland, a member of the European Union and, more importantly in this case, NATO?
According to the Western defense alliance’s charter, an attack on one of its nations will be viewed as an attack on all of them.
The West is keen to avoid a face-off between two global nuclear powers – Russia and the US. It hopes that Moscow will do the same.
The mayor of Warsaw, Rafal Trzaskowski, told me that his country wasn’t in panic, but that people were starting to ask questions – especially after Russia struck close to the Polish border, and NATO warned that Russia may be planning chemical attacks.
The mayor insisted something urgent needs to be done about the refugee crisis as well.
According to him, President Putin’s goal is to weaken the West by dividing it.
Ukrainians are welcome across the EU, according to Brussels. Poland has also received funding from the organization.
There is a feeling that it is not enough here, but the authorities disagree. Neither the European Commission nor the European Parliament mentions exact figures.